Notes to Volume 2: October 1956 to December 1957


24 October 1956

the old Duke of Devonshire, who yawned


The 8th Duke of Devonshire's yawn in the middle of his own maiden speech impressed Disraeli, who commented, 'He'll do. To anyone who can betray such languor in such circumstances the highest posts should be open.' (Duchess of Devonshire, The House — A Portrait of Chatsworth, 1987, p 43.)

Conrad, Youth

An autobiographical short story written in 1898 and included as the first story in Conrad's 1902 volume Youth, a Narrative, and Two Other Stories:
Whenever the old dismantled craft pitched heavily with her counter high in the air, she seemed to me to throw up, like an appeal, like a defiance, like a cry to the clouds without mercy, the words written on her stern: 'Judea, London. Do or Die.' O youth! The strength of it, the faith of it, the imagination of it!

Crawfie literature

The Little Princesses, 1950, the memoirs of Marion Crawford, breaking the confidentiality of her former post as governess to Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, were followed by a popular ghosted column in Woman's Own magazine.

'Pecunia non olet'

The Emperor Vespasian reintroduced a urine tax on public lavatories within Rome's great sewer system the Cloaca Maxima. When his son Titus criticised him, he supposedly pointed out that a coin did not smell ('Pecunia non olet'). (Suetonius, The Life of Vespasian 23.) In modern Italian, urinals are sometimes known as 'vespasiani'.


27 October 1956

Silas Wegg

From Dickens's Our Mutual Friend, Ch 5.

'of repellent aspect, remotely connected with education'

Lady Bracknell's description of Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 3.

The Good Woman of Setzuan

Bertolt Brecht's Der gute Mensch von Sezuan, is now more usually translated as The Good Person of Setzuan. First produced, 1943. The cast of George Devine's 1956 production included Joan Plowright, John Osborne and Robert Stephens.


1 November 1956

a 'monstrous little voice'

Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1:2: 'let me play Thisby too, I'll speak in a monstrous little voice.'

'solitude of shepherds…'

From 'Once in the wind of morning' subtitled 'The Merry Guide' (A Shropshire Lad, 1896, XLII).

'No, I read no poetry now…'

Quoted by A C Benson in his introduction to An Eton Poetry Book (1925)

All passes. Art alone…

From Ars Vitrix, Dobson's English version of Théophile Gautier's L'Art.


Public school, founded 1553. Housman was a pupil there from 1870-77.

'about stone-time'

'Hell Fire' from Butler's Note-Book:

Many of the other shades took daily pleasure in gathering together about stone-time to enjoy the fun and to bet on how far the stone would roll.

Miss Savage

Eliza Mary Ann Savage, Butler's friend, confidante and correspondent from 1871 until her death in 1885.


4 November 1956

Daily Telegraph

Daily newspaper, established 1855. Originally Liberal in outlook, in the twentieth century it became a byword for right-wing views.

translated or cribbed?

Ars Victrix is not a straightforward translation; Dobson, as RH-D notes, called it 'Imitated from Théophile Gautier', and it consists of 40 lines to Gautier's 56, which begin:

Oui, l'oeuvre sort plus belle
D'une forme au travail
Vers, marbre, onyx, émail.

a good thirty-five years younger

In fact 29 years younger

…much the shortest

The aggregated playing time of the four acts of La bohème is less than two hours, although the King would have seen the piece at Covent Garden, with prolonged intervals extending the evening considerably.


8 November 1956

'What is known not always present'

From the preface to Johnson's Dictionary:

'…what is obvious is not always known, and what is known is not always present; that sudden fits of inadvertency will surprize vigilance, slight avocations will seduce attention, and casual eclipses of the mind will darken learning; and that the writer shall often in vain trace his memory at the moment of need, for that which yesterday he knew with intuitive readiness, and which will come uncalled into his thoughts to-morrow.'

Dorian Gray

In Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, in which the main character, begins as 'a young man of extraordinary personal beauty' and dies as 'withered, wrinkled and loathsome of visage'.

so loathsome a father

The 9th Marquess of Queensberry.


William Shaw, headmaster of Bowes Academy in Greta Bridge, often held to be the model for Squeers in Nicholas Nickleby. Shaw was prosecuted in 1823 for criminal negligence when two children went blind while in his care at Bowes Academy. There are many similarities between Shaw and Squeers: both had only one eye; both had cards stating that their school was near Greta Bridge and would 'teach young gentlemen Latin, English, arithmetic, geography and geometry, and…board and lodge them for £20'.

'Natur' she's a rum 'un'

Nicholas Nickleby, Ch 45: 'It only shows what Natur is, sir,' said Mr Squeers. 'She's a rum 'un, is Natur.'

That inimitable page of W. Cory's

Quoted at length in GWL's letter of 29 November.


11 November 1956


'Thoughts on Dr Leavis', The New Statesman, 10 November. The piece was reprinted in Priestley's Thoughts in the Wilderness (1957). Priestley considered Leavis 'a sort of Calvinist' who 'makes one feel that he hates books and authors' in his 'firework displays of neurotic egoism' (pp 205, 206 and 208). Reviewing Priestley's book in The Saturday Review, Ben Ray Redman described Leavis as 'most humorless and pompous of living literary editors.'

an Agatha Christie play

If it was in the West End, either The Mousetrap at the Ambassadors or Towards Zero at the St James's.

the film of Moby Dick

1956 film based on Melville's novel, directed by John Huston and starring Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab.


15 November 1956

'smooth-sliding Mincius'

Milton, Lycidas, lines 86/87:

Smooth-sliding Mincius, crown'd with vocall reeds,
That strain I heard was of a higher mood.


18 November 1956

unforgiving minute

Kipling's poem 'If':

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run.

his brother's funeral

Maurice Headlam had died on 2 November aged 83

'The bloom is gone and with the bloom go I'

From Matthew Arnold's 'Thyrsis':So I have heard the cuckoo's parting cry
From the wet field, through the vext garden trees,
Come with the volleying rain and tossing breeze:
The bloom is gone and with the bloom go I!


22 November 1956

'with his belly standing astrote like a taber, and his null totty with drink'

More, De quatuor novissimis: 'What good can the great glutton do with his belly standing a strout like a tabour and his noll totty with drink, but balk up his brewes in the midst of his matters, or lie down and sleep like a swine?'

OED definitions:

  • a strout: variant of 'a-strut', sticking out, projecting stiffly; protruding, swollen, puffed up.
  • tabour: a small drum.
  • noll: the head ('In later use freq. with the epithet drunken').
  • totty: unsteady, shaky, tottery (physically or mentally); dizzy, dazed; tipsy, fuddled.

I am no clearer…than Mr Micawber was about gowans

Dickens, David Copperfield, Ch 28:

'I am not exactly aware,' said Mr Micawber, with the old roll in his voice, and the old indescribable air of saying something genteel, 'what gowans may be, but I have no doubt that Copperfield and myself would frequently have taken a pull at them, if it had been feasible.'

'then they will molest you rarely'

Letter from Johnson to Boswell, 8 April 1780.

…make it an invariable and obligatory law to yourself, never to mention your own mental diseases; if you are never to speak of them, you will think on them but little, and if you think little of them, they will molest you rarely. When you talk of them, it is plain that you want either praise or pity; for praise there is no room, and pity will do you no good; therefore, from this hour speak no more, think no more, about them.

Junior Ganymede, of which Jeeves was a member

Club for valets and butlers in Curzon Street, W1. The club's rules require members to contribute to the club book candid information about the people they have worked for, so that fellow members can be better informed about prospective employers. The contents of the book are supposed to be strictly confidential to club members, though Jeeves stretches a point in the last chapter of The Code of the Woosters.


25 November 1956

All occasions do inform against us

Hamlet 4:4

How all occasions do inform against me,
And spur my dull revenge!

Time and Tide

Literary and political magazine founded in 1920 by Lady Rhondda. Ceased publication in 1977.

'We work in the dark…'

Henry James, The Middle Years (1893).

Duff Cooper Memorial Prize

Instituted in 1956 in Duff Cooper's memory. Awarded annually for the best work of history, biography, or political science published in English or French.

Alan Moorehead's Gallipoli

Published by Hamish Hamilton in 1956. The book also won the Sunday Times literary prize and gold medal for 1955/56.


29 November 1956

Floreat Etona amicabilis concordia

King's has formal ties with Eton, Winchester, and New College, Oxford, dating back to 1444, a four-way relationship known as the Amicabilis Concordia.

W. Cory on public school education—the last word, me judice

From Cory's 1861 tract Eton Reform.


2 December 1956

the P.M.'s last fortnight at Goldeneye

Anthony Eden was convalescing at Ian Fleming's house in Jamaica.

Annals of the Parish

1821 volume of stories by John Galt, telling of life in the Ayrshire town of Dalmailing during the period of the Industrial Revolution.

'I am a willow...

Both are from poems by Emerson: 'Musquetaquid' and 'Terminus'.

Do you remember Old English?

Galsworthy's 1924 dramatisation of his 1916 short story 'A Stoic.' In both play and story the crux of the plot is an old man's calculated suicide by eating a rich and elaborate dinner, with many courses and as many wines, against his doctor's orders.


5 December 1956


Dwight Eisenhower.

'we are for the dark'

Antony and Cleopatra, 5:2

…the bright day is done,
And we are for the dark.

I wonder how true it is that Lloyd Osbourne wrote practically all of it

Osbourne conceived the story and wrote the first draft. Stevenson wrote in April 1888 to Miss Ferrier ('Coggie'), that Osbourne 'wrote a tale this winter, which appeared to me so funny I have taken it in hand.'

the Athenaeum

Literary and scientific periodical, published between 1828 and 1923.

Tennyson's Queen Mary

1875 drama, in five acts and twenty-three scenes, depicting Mary Tudor, Phillip II and Princess Elizabeth. The Times gave a favourable review, but the play has not entered the regular repertory.

Christie Johnstone was immensely superior to Vanity Fair

Novels by Charles Reade (1855) and Thackeray (1848).

Landor's remark hits the nail firmly: 'We admire by tradition (or fashion) and criticise by caprice.'

'Tradition', not 'fashion'. Quoted by Augustine Birrell in 'A Good Book and a Bad One' in Selected Essays 1884-1907.

Germane soup

Potage purée St Germain. Cream soup of pea and lettuce.

cutlet soubees

Côtelettes de mouton à la Soubise. Cutlets of lamb or mutton with a creamed onion sauce. Popular among Victorian diners.

cheese remmykin

(or ramekin) a variant of soufflé, served as a savoury at the end of dinner.

This from memory; I don't think it is inaccurate.

It is accurate in every particular.


Beetroot soup; the most usual English spelling is 'borscht'.

King's Founder's Feast

Annual dinner in memory of Henry VI, founder of the college.

one with Nineveh and Tyre

Kipling, 'Recessional':

Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!

Roger's windfall from the Evening Standard for his Suffragette book

In 1956 Roger Fulford won the £5000 Evening Standard book prize for his study of the Suffragette struggle before 1914. Votes for Women: The Story of a Struggle was published in hardback in 1957 by Faber & Faber.

a mere Rahab

A harlot. Joshua 2:1: 'And they went, and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lay there.'

Basil Willey's More Nineteenth Century Studies

More Nineteenth Century Studies: A Group of Honest Doubters. As well as Newman, Willey considered Tennyson, J A Froude, Mark Rutherford and John Morley.

that delightful passage, in Vale I think

Moore's three volumes of autobiography were Ave, Salve and Vale, known collectively as Hail and Farewell. Moore's critique of Newman was in fact in Salve. He set out to debunk Newman's Apologia pro Vita sua for its poor prose, which Moore contended, revealed equally poor thinking.

his brother the colonel

Colonel Maurice Moore, whom Moore portrays in the passage as representative of the unbiased reader.

Kingsley had the better of the argument

The ODNB observes that Newman 'scored easy debating points' against Kingsley, 'whose reputation suffered accordingly, but commentators at the time and subsequently disagreed about the merits of the case.'

felix opportunitate mortis

Tacitus, Agricola 45: 'Tu vero felix, Agricola, non vitae tantum claritate, sed etiam opportunitate mortis.' A sentiment frequently expressed by Latin writers: 'lucky in the timing of your death'—dying before the encroachment of age, tribulation or disgrace.


9 December 1956

Diana Cooper's memoirs

RH-D published three volumes of Diana Cooper's memoirs: The Rainbow Comes and Goes (1958), The Light of Common Day (1959) and Trumpets from the Steep (1960). All the titles are taken from Wordsworth's 'Ode on Intimations of Immortality'.

My ardours for surprize now lost
The original reads "My ardours for 'emprize ....'  The OED defines the word as 'An undertaking, an enterprise; esp. one of a bold, adventurous, or chivalrous nature'.

Noel Annan…his book on Leslie Stephen

Leslie Stephen: the Godless Victorian (1951).


13 December 1956

his sordid thefts from the British Museum

Wise (1859–1937) bought imperfect quarto texts and stole replacements for the missing or damaged leaves from copies in the British Museum; these thefts were not discovered until the 1950s.

Agnes Grey

1847 novel by Anne Brontë, about a governess—possibly based on Brontë's own experiences.

Strachey-Woolf letters

Letters of Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey, edited by Leonard Woolf and James Strachey, 1956. Reviewing the book in the TLS, William Plomer's verdict was similar to GWL's; he described the correspondence as 'disappointing' and remarked on its occasional 'self-consciousness and stiltedness'. (TLS, 7 December 1956, p 721)

Here endeth the epistle of George the Apostle

Book of Common Prayer: the Order for Daily Morning or Evening Prayer: 'And the Epistle ended, he shall say, Here endeth the Epistle.'

Pluck and Button

Puck and Bottom, according to Shakespeare.

the Welsh Board

Several regional examining bodies were entitled to award the General Certificate of Education. Some were generally believed to be more rigorous than others.


16 December 1956

Spiced beef ... massaged with a different herb every day

Spiced beef was once a traditional Christmas dish in English country houses. The great food writer Elizabeth David gives a recipe for it that calls for a 10—12 lb joint of silverside rubbed daily with sugar (6 oz), saltpetre (10 oz), salt (6 oz), pepper (2 oz), allspice (10 oz) and juniper berries (2 oz) across 9—14 days, before slow braising for at least 5 hours. A joint of beef on so lavish a scale was a fairly recent luxury in 1956, the wartime and post-war rationing of meat having ended only two years earlier.


Oscar Wilde.


Henry Irving.

Fleming's proofs

Invasion 1940—An Account of the German Preparations and the British Counter-Measures (1957).

The Times

England's oldest national newspaper, founded in 1785 as 'The Daily Universal Register', changed in 1788 to the present title. All other newspapers with 'Times' in their title, from The Times of India to The New York Times, derive their titles from the original.


20 December 1956

'Counting fish as nothing'

Lamb, The Last Essays of Elia, 'To the Shade of Elliston':

Those who knew Elliston, will know the manner in which he pronounced the latter sentence of the few words I am about to record. One proud day to me he took his roast mutton with us in the Temple, to which I had superadded a preliminary haddock. After a rather plentiful partaking of the meagre banquet, not unrefreshed with the humbler sort of liquors, I made a sort of apology for the humility of the fare, observing that for my own part I never ate but of one dish at dinner. 'I too never eat but one thing at dinner'—was his reply—then after a pause—'reckoning fish as nothing.'

How many dishes were there at the Caliph's feast…

From Beckford's Vathek:

The Caliph…sat down indeed to eat; but, of the three hundred dishes that were daily placed before him, he could taste of no more than thirty-two.

Clive Bell on his friends

Old Friends, 1956. Bell's reminiscences of the Bloomsbury set: Lytton Strachey, John Maynard Keynes, Virginia Woolf (his sister in law), Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell; and also of Cocteau, Derain, Matisse, Poulenc and Satie.


A set of writers, artists, and intellectuals living in or associated with Bloomsbury in the early 20th century.

Housman's terrier and rat

Letter to Seymour Adelman, 6 May 1928: 'I can no more define poetry than a terrier can define a rat; but he knows a rat when he comes across one.'




30 December 1956


Dining club, founded c. 1735 by John Rich and Lord Peterborough, originally called the Sublime Society of Beef Steaks. Reformed several times thereafter. The club currently (2019) meets at 9 Irving Street, off Leicester Square. Members of the original and successor clubs have included Samuel Johnson, George IV when Prince of Wales, Henry Irving, W S Gilbert, Edward Elgar, Harold Macmillan, Osbert Lancaster and Stephen Fry.


3 January 1957

'shades of the prison house'

Wordsworth, 'Ode—Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood':

Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy

books selected for their unreadability

The CUP list for December 1956 consisted of:

  • Atomic Weapons and East-West Relations, by Professor P M S Blackett
  • Automation, Friend or Foe? by R H Macmillan
  • The Approach to Self-Government by Sir Ivor Jennings
  • International Law Options by Lord McNair
  • Some Observations on American Education by Robert M Hutchings ('an explanation and criticism of the American university system, written for British readers by a former Chancellor of the University of Chicago').
    (The Times, 6 December 1956, p 12.)

The Dame

Eton term for matron of a house.

A novel by Vicki Baum

The Mustard Seed (1953).


5 January 1957

The John Carter

Books and Book-Collectors, published by RH-D Ltd in 1956. Essays on great book collectors, typographers, the collecting of detective fiction and the Wise forgeries.

large selection of Edmund Blunden's poems…

Edmund Blunden—Poems of Many Years. Collins 1957.

Collected Edition…of S.T. Coleridge

The Coleridge edition was completed by the publishers Routledge after RH-D's retirement.

my Newman

Newman: Prose and Poetry, selected by Geoffrey Tillotson, published by RH-D in 1957. 842 pages long.

Dickens Fellowship

Founded in 1902 to promote the works of Dickens and pursue the social reforms he championed.

Biography of William Wetmore Story

William Wetmore Story and his Friends (1903).


10 January 1957

Humpty D said

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass, Chapter VI, 'Humpty Dumpty':

'…there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents –'
'Certainly,' said Alice.
'And only one for birthday presents, you know. There's glory for you!'

Brigg umbrella

Brigg and Sons, established in 1836, merged in 1943 with a leather goods company to form Swaine Adeney Brigg of St James's Street. Along with Fox's in the City and James Smith and Sons of New Oxford Street, one of the most prestigious of umbrella-makers.

Poole trousering

Henry Poole, Savile Row tailor, established 1806.

Thomas footwear

Thomas of St James’s. Bootmaker to Prince Albert and other luminaries.

Not to Eden

Anthony Eden resigned as Prime Minister on 9 January. Churchill had earlier jokingly speculated that Eden might catch myxomatosis, the disease of rabbits, but there is no doubt that Eden's illness was genuine rather than diplomatic. (D R Thorpe, Alec Douglas-Home, 1967, p 186)


The Daily Mirror. Popular, left-leaning daily newspaper.

New Statesman

Weekly political and literary magazine, of left-of-centre views.


The Times Literary Supplement, a weekly literary review. It first appeared in 1902 as a supplement to The Times, and became a separate publication in 1914.

adolescent pretentiousness of Colin Wilson's

Wilson's The Outsider, published in 1956 when the author was 24.

Flora Finching

A character in Little Dorrit.

Leopards in the Night

See next note.


12 January 1957

Leopards in the Night…The Trumpeting Herd

Published by RH-D, 1955 and 1957. The first is subtitled, 'Man-Eaters and Cattle Raiders in Nyasaland'. The author was a colonial official who, in the course of his duties, had perilous encounters with leopards, elephants and other wild animals.

Holker Hall

Large house, mostly Victorian, near Grange over Sands (now part of Cumbria: in 1957, in Lancashire). The Holker Cavendishes are a branch of the family of the Dukes of Devonshire.

Swedenborg Hall…Swedenborgians

The Swedenborg Society translates, prints and publishes works by the Swedish scientist, philosopher and visionary, Emanuel Swedenborg. It is based in Bloomsbury.

her Burne-Jones relations

Angela Thirkell's mother was the daughter of Edward Burne-Jones.

Bell's Life in London

Bell's Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, 'Combining, with the News of the Week, a rich Repository of Fashion, Wit, and Humour, and the interesting Incidents of REAL LIFE'. Merged with Sporting Life in 1886. Dickens's work appeared in the paper in the 1830s before being revised for hardback publication.

thirty-nine Muses…

The nine Muses, in Greek mythology, embodied and inspired the arts. The Thirty Nine Articles [of Religion] drawn up in 1563 are the standing orders of the Church of England.


16 January 1957

the Cockerell letters

The Best of Friends. Further Letters to Sydney Carlyle Cockerell. Edited by Viola Meynell and published by RH-D in 1956.

the Moore

Possibly GM—Memories of George Moore by Nancy Cunard, published by RH-D in 1956. The Moore letters to Lady Cunard were not published until later in 1957.


G A Nasser.

Bachelor of Powlgarh

usually 'of Powlagarh'. An exceptionally large tiger of the Kaladhungi forest in the 1920s.

'rolls darkling down the torrent of his fate'

Johnson, 'The Vanity of Human Wishes', lines 343-346:

Must helpless man, in ignorance sedate,
Roll darkling down the torrent of his fate?

Mrs Pat

Mrs Patrick Campbell.

on the mat for writing 'from whence'

Cardus tried to defend himself by pointing out to Scott that 'from whence' was used by respected writers including Fielding. Scott replied, 'Mr Fielding would not use it twice in my paper.' (Neville Cardus, Autobiography, Hamish Hamilton, 1984 (orig. Collins, 1947) pp 112-113.)

Ascham Society

Eton masters' literary society.


19 January 1957

who was PM at the time of the Battle of Waterloo?

Lord Liverpool.

both Sunday papers

The Observer and The Sunday Times (there were other Sunday papers, but…)


Public school at Fleetwood, Lancashire.


A rare slip of RH-D's pen: he meant grisly.

The Battle of the River Plate

1956 film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, depicting the Royal Navy's successful attack on the German battleship Graf Spee in the South Atlantic.

Lily Langtry

Usually written 'Lillie'.


24 January 1957

what is the collective noun?

According to Chambers' Dictionary it is a leap of leopards. The OED says 'Leap—An alleged name for a 'company' of leopards. Obs,' its only citation dating from 1486.

'fearful symmetry'…'deadly terrors'

Blake, 'The Tyger':

What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

The Idea of a University

1854 work, expounding Newman's views on the aim of education.

Lead Kindly Light

Hymn with words by Newman, music by John Bacchus Dykes.

Abide With Me

Hymn with words by Henry Francis Lyte, usually sung to the earlier melody 'Eventide' by William Henry Monk.

Fight the Good Fight

Hymn with words by John Monsell, sung to various tunes, including 'Duke Street' attributed to John Hatton, 'Pentecost' by William Boyd and the English traditional melody 'Shepton-Beauchamp'.


Epic poem by Walter Scott about the Battle of Flodden, published in 1808.

Nightingale ode

The longest of Keats's odes, written in 1819.

Old Shaw and his alphabet

Shaw's will left the bulk of his estate for the reform of English spelling. The courts later directed that only £8,300 should be used for that purpose; an edition of Androcles and the Lion was printed in 1962 in the resulting phonetic alphabet of forty letters.

Majestic river Oxus

In Arnold's 'Sohrab and Rustum':

The shorn and parcell'd Oxus strains along…But the majestic river floated on, Out of the mist and hum of that low land.

not at all a favourite author of Mrs Boffin's

Mrs Boffin: a kind, homely character in Dickens's Our Mutual Friend. Why she might be thought particularly hostile to the twentieth century works of Margaret Mead is not clear.

A Study of the Pelvic Type 

A Study of Pelvic Type, and its Relationship to Body Build in White Women. By William Walter and Herbert Thoms with Ruth Christian Twaddle, Chicago, American Medical Association, 1939.


26 January 1957

Byron! thou should'st be living at this hour

Parodying Wordsworth's 'London 1802': 'Milton! thou should'st be living at this hour'.

Bolton Evening News

Founded 1867, selling in Bolton, Bury, Leigh and elsewhere in Lancashire. Renamed The Bolton News in 2006.


31 January 1957

The Slave Girl

The Slave Woman, directed by Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, starring Rhonda Fleming as Semiramis. The film appears to have been given several different titles including The Courtesan of Babylon, Semiramis and Queen of Babylon.

'He stumps along by your side…'

Justice Holmes in the Holmes-Laski Letters, 22 January 1922: 'He stumps along by your side, a bore in a brown coat, and suddenly he goes up and you find that your companion was an angel.'

his feelings at school about Lord Clare

Byron's Diary, 1821:

My school-friendships were with me passions (for I was always violent,)…That with Lord Clare begun one of the earliest, and lasted longest—being only interrupted by distance—that I know of. I never hear the word 'Clare' without a beating of the heart even now, and I write it with the feelings of 1803-4-5, ad infinitum.

Fanny by Gaslight…Esther Waters

Sadleir's 1940 novel and Moore's of 1894 depict cads taking advantage of young women, with regrettable consequences.


3 February 1957

Post…propter hoc

Post hoc ergo propter—'after this therefore because of this', a classic logical fallacy.


7 February 1957

thirty-two chewings of every mouthful

H C G Matthew, Gladstone: 1875-1898, p 304: 'Children learned…to emulate the great statesman by chewing each mouthful 32 times.'

to avert shock after a fall, one should remain some time in situ

I can find no citation for this.

Lives of the Poets

Johnson's Prefaces, Biographical and Critical, to the Works of the English Poets were first collected in 1781. More than fifty poets are included, not all of them of the highest rank.

The D.N.B.…the extreme dryness of the author's English

The DNB article on Admiral Hood was written in 1891 by J K Laughton.


14 February 1957

the place in the 'Milton' where the Doctor splits an infinitive?

Para 52: 'Milton was too busy to much miss his wife.'

Depend upon it, Sir…

Not, as far as I can find, a quotation; GWL in mock-Johnsonian vein, evidently.


Russian peasant.


17 February 1957

as at Tring

Champneys health farm at Tring was opened in 1925 by the naturopath Stanley Lief.

At the Drop of a Hat

Written and performed by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann.

imitation of a tennis-umpire at Wimbledon

'Tried by the Centre Court', in which Flanders as 'the umpire upon whom the sun never sets', presiding over an interminable ladies' singles match, interspersed the umpire's announcements of the score with his private, exasperated thoughts:

…year after year as I've sat on court after court
I've been struck by the thought:
They are bashing a ball with the gut of a cat.
What a sport!
You may think it's tedious seen from down there
It's ludicrous seen from above!


21 February 1957

the Boniface of December

GWL's allusion is unclear. The OED cites the name of the jovial innkeeper in Farquhar's Beaux' Stratagem, 1707, 'whence taken as the generic proper name of innkeepers', but why this implies obesity is not apparent.

the tastes of Sir Gerald Kelly

GWL made innuendos about Kelly's moral outlook earlier (12 July 1956) and later (8 June 1957) in similarly cryptic manner.

Goldsmith's bow

Quotation not traced.

as Browning did the unseen

Browning: 'Epilogue'

No, at noonday in the bustle of man's work-time
Greet the unseen with a cheer!

'…abstract meditation…'

Some texts print this as 'abstracted meditation'.


24 February 1957

ad misericordiam

To mercy or pity.

the new Michael Innes detective story

Appleby Plays Chicken.

Charles Morgan's novel

Challenge to Venus.


28 February 1957

quot medici tot sententiae

There are as many opinions as there are doctors. A play on Terence: Quot homines, tot sententiae.

Swithin Forsyte…

Galsworthy, Salvation of a Forsyte, Ch 1:

Swithin Forsyte said angrily: 'I can't get things properly cooked here; at the club I get spinach decently done.' The bed-clothes jerked at the tremor of his legs.

Emma…is very long

Emma and Mansfield Park are of almost identical length.

brilliant Don Leon poem of Colman's

Poem attributed variously to Byron or George Colman the younger (1762-1836). A hymn to homosexuality, ending with the lines:

And like the satirist, who gravely said,
'When wives are tiresome take a boy to bed.'

'The moping idiot and the madman gay'

Crabbe: 'The Village'.


3 March 1957


Economic philosophy propounded by Chesterton, Belloc and others in pursuance of the principles of social justice articulated by the Roman Catholic Church.


6 March 1957

'somebody's not using Amplex'

Amplex: manufacturer of deodorants and breath-fresheners, whose advertising slogan was 'Someone isn't using Amplex'.

Ethel Colburn Mayne dismissed Don Leon as 'little filthy brochures' telling of 'things unspeakable in villainous Alexandrines

Mayne, Byron, Ch 16, but GWL misrepresents her: she was dismissing not Don Leon but scandalmongers at the time of the Byrons' separation:

For long the Byron Separation remained a mystery. Rumour swelled and died and swelled again; writers of every class exhausted themselves in conjecture, or maintained that they had access to irrefutable and decisive information. Serious books, frivolous books; Mrs Beecher Stowe's revelations, followed by Quarterly and Edinburgh and Blackwood articles; commentaries on the poems, loading every line with a narrow personal significance; pamphlets virtuous and vicious; little filthy contraband brochures that purported to be 'Letters from Lord to Lady Byron', and told of things unspeakable in villainous alexandrines—such a rank growth of printed matter crowded about a problem with which the public had all along been made too familiar, and in the end left that problem precisely where the Separation Proceedings had found it.

They are not Alexandrines

An Alexandrine is a line of verse with twelve syllables (iambic hexameter). 'Don Leon' is in iambic pentameter, so has ten syllables to a line; however, (see previous note), Mayne was not referring to Don Leon when she talked of Alexandrines.

'Mid hush'd, cool rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed'

'Ode to Psyche'

simply caviare

Hamlet 2:2:

…for the play, I remember, pleas'd not the million, 'twas caviare to the general…


17 March 1957

'Youth and the sea! Glamour and the sea!'

Conrad, 'Youth'.

La Dame aux Camélias

By Alexandre Dumas fils, his own dramatisation of his novel of the same title. The year after the first production, Dumas' play became the basis for Verdi's La traviata.


Tragedy by Jean Racine. The Times commented: 'Mme Edwige Feuillère plays Phèdre with great restraint…It is a finely controlled study of character, persuasive in detail but not in total effect overwhelming.'


20 March 1957


Governing board of a school.

Olympic Games

Competitors from the UK won six gold medals at the Melbourne Olympics. The fencing gold was won by Gillian Mary Sheen.

John Gilpin

Cowper, 'The Diverting History of John Gilpin'

The Calender, right glad to find
His friend in merry pin,
Returned him not a single word,
But to the house went in.

Like the dog Rab ...

John Brown, Rab and His Friends:

The same large, heavy, menacing, combative, sombre, honest countenance, the same deep inevitable eye, the same look—as of thunder asleep, but ready—neither a dog nor a man to be trifled with.

Abinger Harvest

A collection of articles, essays, reviews, and poems, written over a period of thirty years by Forster. Published 1936.

Two Cheers for Democracy 

Second collection of essays and articles by Forster, published in 1951.

Perhaps that’s what old age is, Swinny...
Frank Swinnerton, Background with Chorus, 1956, p. 152

The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia: novella by Johnson. His only long work of fiction.

The Eye-witness

Collection of short stories by Belloc, divided into 'Historical Fiction', 'Fables and Fantasies' and 'Satire'.

Private Business

Variety of tutorial at Eton.


24 March 1957

'the forest is like a harp'

Not traced, if, as RH-D supposed, it is a quotation.


28 March 1957

'No such almug-trees were seen in the land'

1 Kings 10:12:

And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the Lord, and for the king's house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day.

Almug trees are sandalwood.

I am almost certain that…'The forest is like a harp' is in Shelley, but I cannot place it.

GWL may possibly have been thinking of 'Make my thy lyre, even as the forest is' in 'Ode to the West Wind'.

Irving playing a scene from The Bells

'Mathias staggers through the curtain. His face is livid with terror ... waxen features drained of blood. His hands claw at his throat. A thin strangled voice forces its way through invisible constrictions. "Take the rope from my neck ... take the rope from my neck!" ... The pupils of the eyes roll upwards. The ghastly mask is petrified and tinted with the greyness of death. The limbs grow cold. As he falls, his wife catches him in her arms.'

News Chronicle

Daily newspaper, of liberal leaning, by this time in decline. Its sales suffered from its editorial opposition to the Suez campaign. In 1960 it was absorbed into the highly illiberal Daily Mail.

Illustrated London News

Magazine, founded 1842. Published weekly until 1971, and at longer intervals thereafter.

St John Ervine's Life of General Booth

God's Soldier: General William Booth (2 vols, Macmillan, 1934).


4 April 1957

Hugh Walpole's vis-à-vis Wodehouse apropos of Belloc's eulogy

In RH-D's Hugh Walpole, p 403, Wodehouse is quoted thus:

Hilaire Belloc had said on the radio something to the effect that the greatest of all writers today was p G. Wodehouse—purely, presumably, as a gag, to get a rise out of serious-minded authors whom he disliked—and Hugh couldn't leave this alone…Eventually a plausible solution occurred to him. 'Ah, well,' he said, 'the old man's getting very old.'

The exchange is also recounted in Wodehouse's Performing Flea (letter of 1 August 1945).

Chesterton's crack

Chesterton, Orthodoxy, 'The Flag of the World':

The same women who are ready to defend their men through thick and thin are (in their personal intercourse with the man) almost morbidly lucid about the thinness of his excuses or the thickness of his head.


John E Littlewood A Mathematician's Miscellany, 1953:

It was the custom (c. 1905) to read the roll at lectures (in alphabetical order). Verrall came to Mr Shufflebottom, Mr Sitwell, burst into his crow of laughter, and never read the roll again. At a Scholarship examination, Dykes pointed out to me that the list had the consecutives Alchin and Alcock.

Joxer Daly

In J M Synge's play The Playboy of the Western World.

Contemporary Review

Independent monthly journal, dealing with questions of the day including politics, international affairs, literature and the arts.


6 April 1957

Doctor at Large

Film directed by Ralph Thomas, starring Dirk Bogarde, Donald Sinden and James Robertson Justice, based on Richard Gordon's 1955 comic novel of the same name.

The skies…are ashen and sober…The air bites shrewdly

Poe, 'Ulalume—A Ballad'; Hamlet 1:4


14 April 1957

louse in the locks of literature

Originally '…on the locks…'—attributed to Tennyson by Edmund Gosse, describing the literary critic John Churton Collins (1848-1908).

'sweated in the eye of Phoebus'…sleep in Elysium

Henry V 4:1

But, like a lackey, from the rise to set
Sweats in the eye of Phoebus, and all night
Sleeps in Elysium.

the leading lady

The actress originally cast, Diane Cilento, was ill and Zuleika was played by Mildred Mayne. The Times commented '…not perhaps all that Beerbohm painted her, but she is always engaging and she sings easily and well.' In The Manchester Guardian, Philip Hope-Wallace wrote:

What the incomparable Max would have thought of Mildred Mayne…one fails to imagine. She is a slim and vivid young lady whose person we know less for her stage experience than for the fact that her picture, advertising corsets, catches the eye in the Underground railway. She looked delightful in a series of stunning Edwardian hobble-skirt frocks designed for her by Osbert Lancaster, but though she copes competently with the part of the siren of Oxford, she does not seem naturally to have the voice, the personality or the wit for the part.

Zuleika ran from 11 April to 27 July.

reached a Wagnerian crescendo

RH-D was confusing crescendo with fortissimo.

the new detective story by Nicholas Blake

End of Chapter. The TLS observed that the classical detective form was in safe hands as long as Blake was writing.

the terrible poem…

'The Destroyer of a Soul'.


17 April 1957

'The public is an old woman…'

From Carlyle's Journal, 1835.

Birrell hearing some­one decry George Eliot

The Holmes-Laski Letters, p 1022:

Birrell…said that he once had seen a man treat George Eliot rudely: 'I sat down in a corner,' said Birrell, 'and prayed to God to blast him. God did nothing, and ever since I have been an agnostic.'

Livres sans nom

'Books by an anonymous author'. Title of five anonymous pamphlets by Madan.

'in the sea of life enisled'

Arnold, 'To Marguerite'

Yes: in the sea of life enisled,
With echoing straits between us thrown.
Dotting the shoreless watery wild,
We mortal millions live alone.


21 April 1957

Alan Bullock's review  in to-day's Observer is the first one that has seen the point

Professor Bullock praised Fleming for refraining from excessive military detail on the one hand and avoiding 'another stirring chapter of Patriotic History' on the other. 'Mr Fleming avoids both mistakes and stirs professional historians to envy the skill with which he recaptures the elusive temper of that far-off summer.' (The Observer, 21 April 1957, p 10)

Jonathan Cape

Publisher, head of the eponymous firm founded in 1919. RH-D was an employee and junior partner between 1933 and 1945.

Union Street

A selection of Causley's poems written between 1943 and 1956. The major themes are the war at sea, and the poet's native Cornwall. RH-D's edition, published in March 1957, had a preface by Dame Edith Sitwell.


25 April 1957

I read Ian Fleming

From Russia, With Love.

both he and M.

M is the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) in From Russia With Love and the other Bond novels.

Under Milk Wood

Radio play by Dylan Thomas.

Abraham to…St Simeon

Abraham was the patriarch of the Old Testament; St Simeon was a Christian ascetic saint who lived alone for 37 years on a small platform on top of a pillar.

Racing Demon

A boisterous card game, played by children and adults.


28 April 1957


Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire, the home of Diana Cooper's family.

That Turkish chap

Darko Kerim Bey, a charming bon vivant, head of British intelligence in Turkey.

I asked Ian if Bond was dead, and he said NO

Reviewing From Russia With Love in the TLS Julian Symons asked, 'Is Bond's apparent death only a new version of the Reichenbach Falls, or should the book really be sub-titled "The Last Lay of James Bond"?' (TLS, 12 April 1957, p 230)

Peter says that…it must have been written by…

The TLS archive states that review was by Professor Eric Birley (1906-1995), whose academic speciality was archaeology; he served in Military Intelligence throughout the Second World War and was Chief of the German Military Document Section.


Within the Directorate of Military Intelligence there were departments (MI 1 to MI 19) with their own specialisms. MI 14 was responsible for aerial reconnaissance.


2 May 1957

seam and gusset and band

From Thomas Hood's 'The Song of the Shirt' (1843) a poem against the exploitation of workers in the cheap clothing trade:

Till the brain begins to swim;
Till the eyes are heavy and dim!
Seam, and gusset, and band,
Band, and gusset, and seam,
Till over the buttons I fall asleep,
And sew them on in a dream!

Daily Sketch

The Daily Sketch, a rightward-leaning, less successful, rival of The Daily Mirror. Ceased publication in 1971.

'Where shall wisdom be found'

Anthem with text from Job 28. The best-known setting is by William Boyce.

'fine confused feeding'

Description applied both to a haggis and a sheep's head; author unknown, though sometimes attributed to Dr Johnson without citation. Possibly derived from Lat. coena dubia, 'a doubtful dinner'—one so lavish that one does not know what to eat first.

Fortnum, Carreras and Moss Bros

Respectively, department store famous for groceries, tobacco company, and men's outfitters.

Irish R.M.

A series of comic stories by the Anglo-Irish novelists Somerville and Ross.


History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon.

Prospero's isle

In The Tempest.


5 May 1957

'…what I say three times is true'

Lewis Carroll The Hunting of the Snark:

Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true.

all the remaining correspondence between Henry James and H.G. Wells

Henry James and H G Wells—The Correspondence Between Le Maître and Le Gamin edited by Leon Edel and Gordon N Ray, published by RH-D in 1958.

P.E.N. Club

London, and later international, association of writers, founded in 1921. Its first members included Joseph Conrad, Elizabeth Craig, Bernard Shaw, and H G Wells.


9 May 1957

'Eckermann' on p 8, and 'star sown' on p 27

In the second impression of Union Street the first of GWL's suggested changes was made, but 'star-sewn' remained (in the poem 'Elizabethan Sailor's Song'). In Causley's 1992 Collected Poems the phrase is changed to 'star-strewn':

Then shall we wander in star-strewn meadows
Frosted by ancient October
Where ice like iron rims the shadows
And never be sober.

an essay of D. MacCarthy in which he described the gait of an antelope and used the word 'elegant'

Possibly a reference to MacCarthy's 1918 essay 'The Wonder Zoo' in Experience, p 104: 'ostriches are launching themselves about with that jaunty, springy gait, at once so elegant and so ridiculous.'

'manners were less pure, but his character was equally amiable with that of his father'

Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Ch 7.

Prince Leboo

A racehorse of the 1860s (named after Prince Leboo a youthful native of the Pelew Islands, who was brought over to England in July 1784, and succumbed to smallpox in December 1784).

MacLaren…was an extremely stupid, prejudiced and pig-headed man

MacLaren had at the least the modesty to say, comparing himself with Victor Trumper of Australia, 'I was supposed to be a batsman in the Grand Manner. Compared to Victor, I was as a cab-horse to a Derby winner.' Quoted in Vernon Scanell, Sporting Literature—An Anthology (1987), p 254

Gents v Players

An annual Lord's fixture in which leading amateur cricketers ('the Gentlemen') played against a team of professionals ('the Players'). Last played in 1962, after which the old class distinctions were finally relaxed.


11 May 1957

Maud Emerald

See biography of Lady Cunard.

'capable Scot'

R L Stevenson and L Osbourne, The Wrong Box, Ch 1: 'A young but capable Scot was chosen as manager'.


12 May 1957

I think that excellent remark about the motto of the perfect wife was made by Edward Thomas and reported by E.S.P. Haynes in his Lawyer's Notebook, though I suspect that you have improved the wording a trifle

RH-D's suspicion was unfounded; GWL quoted the line as printed in Haynes's book (p 169).

the Grandstand at Lords

RH-D was correct: the original grandstand at Lord's, built in 1867, was replaced in 1926 by one designed by Sir Herbert Baker (who presented the weather vane of Old Father Time). Baker's grandstand was demolished in 1996, replaced by a new one designed by Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners.


15 May 1957

I read somewhere that Lloyd Osborne wrote practically all The Wrong Box

Osbourne wrote the first draft of the novel 1887 (when it was titled The Finsbury Tontine), Stevenson revised it in 1888 (as A Game of Bluff) and again in 1889 when it was given its final title. Stevenson thought Osbourne's original 'quite incredibly silly, and in parts (it seems to me) pretty humorous.' (The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, Vol. III, 1887-1891, p 22.) See note for 5 December 1956, above.

the husky, dusky Mrs S

Osbourne's mother married Stevenson.

throwing plates

But according to Frieda Lawrence:

The story of the mayor of Milan who came to breakfast in Taormina, with Lawrence throwing plates at me, made me weep tears of laughter. I had never heard it before! And we were poor and did not have so many plates! (New Statesman, 13 August 1955.)

his first best-seller

Probably Of Mice and Men (1937).

in need of an ounce of civet

King Lear 4:6: 'Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination.'

'All right to end a sentence with a preposition, but not a paragraph. That should end with the blow of an axe.'

'I think it permissible to end a sentence with an insignificant word. Not a paragraph, however. That should end with the blow of an axe.' (Holmes to Laski, p 728)

black as the night from pole to pole

W E Henley, 'Invictus':

Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole.


19 May 1957

Vailima Letters

A collection of letters written by Robert Louis Stevenson while living at Vailima, Samoa.

Church Hall, Westminster

A slip of the pen: the (Hermon Ould Memorial) lecture was at Church House, Westminster.


International Music Association

the rebuilt Inner Temple

The four Inns of Court (Lincoln's Inn, Gray's Inn, Inner Temple and Middle Temple) are the professional associations of English barristers. The Inner Temple was severely bombed in WW2.


Oxford bookseller. (Now has branches outside Oxford.)


21 May 1957

Who was that too exuberant financier?

Chesterton, Robert Browning (1903), p 61

'do not make me sick discussing their duty to God'...

Whitman 'Song of Myself', 32

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God.


26 May 1957

rebuilt in the 1930s

In fact, the 1920s, and Father Time was not a relic of the old building: see note for 12 May, above.

On nait demi-dieu et l'on meurt épicier

One is born as a demigod and dies as a grocer.

Grab me a Gondola

Musical comedy by Julian More and James Gilbert, starring Joan Heal and Denis Quilley. It ran from November 1956 to July 1958.

Miss Somebody

Deirdre White.


29 May 1957

…the Emperor Nero…

The Twelve Caesars, by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus.

qui habuit ventrem rotundum

Who had a fat belly.

'veiled in the decent obscurity of a learned language'

Gibbon: Chapter XL: Reign Of Justinian. Part I:

After exhausting the arts of sensual pleasure, she most ungratefully murmured against the parsimony of Nature; but her murmurs, her pleasures, and her arts, must be veiled in the obscurity of a learned language.

Edith J. Morley of the Reading High School

A rare catty remark from GWL: Edith Morley was Professor at the University of Reading.

Mottram's book…

Ada & John Galsworthy—For Some We Loved by R H Mottram (1956).

'Who drives fat oxen must himself be fat'

Boswell's Life of Johnson, 1784 section:

Johnson was present when a tragedy was read, in which there occurred this line: 'Who rules o'er freemen should himself be free.' The company having admired it much, 'I cannot agree with you (said Johnson:) It might as well be said, "Who drives fat oxen should himself be fat".'


2 June 1957

Domesday Book

The record of the Great Inquisition or Survey of the lands of England made by order of William the Conqueror in 1086.

my mother in law

Lady Spears—see Borden, Mary in biographies

a dash of the tarbrush

Old-fashioned and not conspicuously polite phrase indicating mixed black and white racial descent.

a Lucullan dinner-party

Lucullus, ancient Roman consul, noted for his elaborate banquets.


7 June 1957

Ulysses…Finnegans Wake

Books by James Joyce. The latter, in particular, ignoring many of the basic narrative conventions, is widely regarded as difficult to read.

one of those queer states which make such laws as that forbidding anyone 'to fire a pistol at a picnic except in self-defence', or, in another state, 'to eat scorpions or lizards in public.'

According to William Seagle in There Ought to be a Law: A Collection of Lunatic Legislation (1933), a law in the American state of Georgia lays down, 'If any person shall fire a pistol, gun or other firearm on any excursion train, or at any picnic, except in self-defence, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.' I can find no published legal prohibition of eating scorpions or lizards.

'noble and nude and antique'

Swinburne, 'Dolores'

We shift and bedeck and bedrape us,
Thou art noble and nude and antique.

'All occasions invite his mercies and all times are his seasons'

Donne: Sermon for Christmas Day, evening, 1640

…now God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the Sun at noon to illustrate all shadowes, as the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries, all occasions invite his mercies, and all times are his seasons.

Who wrote that invocation…

John Matthews (1755-1826).

lame as a tree

Richard Surflet, Estienne and Liébault's Maison rustique, or the countrie farme tr. 1600: 'Trees become lame when they be planted in too drie a place.'

her new novel

Probably The Sandcastle, published in May 1957.

pathetic and foolish young lady

Ida Orchard, whose fiancé, Stuart McMorran, drowned in the Serpentine on 1 June.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

Annals in Old English narrating the history of the Anglo-Saxons, created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great.

ad rem

To the point.


11 June 1957

The Prisoner of Zenda ... Rupert of Hentzau.

Adventure stories by Anthony Hope.

Ostler Joe

Recitation which begins:

I stood at eve, as the sun went down, by a grave where a woman lies,
Who lured men's souls to the shores of sin with the light of her wanton eyes.

The rigours of the 4th of June

George III's birthday, celebrated at Eton on the Wednesday closest to 4 June with speeches, cricket and a colourful boat procession.


13 June 1957

Alanbrooke's book

The Turn of the Tide by Arthur Bryant, 'Based on the war diaries of Field Marshal Alanbrooke' published in February 1957.

Mr Big is crunched by a shark

In Live and Let Die (1954).

Toutes choses sont dites déjà…

Everything has already been said, but as no-one listens it is always necessary to start again.


18 June 1957

une affaire d'un déjeuner

Freely translated as 'it will be over by lunch' or even 'it will be a picnic'.

my brother

Richard Lyttelton.

feathered, silken thunder

Haydon (19 July, 1821) recording the banquet in Westminster Hall following the coronation of George IV:

So with a king's advance. A whisper of mystery turns all eyes to the throne. Suddenly two or three rise; others fall back; some talk, direct, hurry, stand still, or disappear. Then three or four of high rank appear from behind the throne; an interval is left; the crowds scarce breathe. Something rustles, and a being buried in satin, feathers and diamonds rolls gracefully to his seat. The room rises with a sort of feathered, silken thunder.

the royal pair

Only half the royal pair was present; George IV prevented Queen Caroline from attending.

the end of Rudolf [Rassendyll]

Rupert of Henzau, Ch 21:

'God has decided,' he said. 'I've tried to do the right thing through it all. Sapt, and Bernenstein, and you, old Fritz, shake my hand. No, don't kiss it. We've done with pretence now.'
    We shook his hand as he bade us. Then he took the queen's hand. Again she knew his mind, and moved it to his lips. 'In life and in death, my sweet queen,' he murmured. And thus he fell asleep.

The shrine of Priapus

In Greek mythology, Priapus (Πρίαπος) was a minor god, protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens and male genitalia.


E L Churchill.


23 June 1957

Nelson's sevenpenny series

Low priced soft-bound reprints, published by Thomas Nelson and Sons at the turn of the 20th century. A hardback novel at that time might cost ten times as much.


27 June 1957

'a match at cricket'

Term for a cricket match once in common use; used by Swift, Horace Walpole et al. (Swift, The History of John Bull, Ch 18, 'How Lewis Baboon came to visit John Bull, and what passed between them'. Austin Dobson, Horace Walpole, A Memoir.)

à la bonne femme

Potage bonne femme: a vegetable soup. Leeks are a prominent ingredient and may conceivably account for the 'strings' to which GWL objected.


5 July 1957

spurlos versunken

Sunk without trace.

'Sun, how I hate thy beams'

Paradise Lost, Book 4:

But with no friendly voice, and add thy name
O Sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams
That bring to my remembrance from what state
I fell.

The Knight of the Burning Pestle

Play by Francis Beaumont, first performed in 1607, a send-up of chivalric romances.

Harold Nicolson's Sainte-Beuve

1957 biography.


7 July 1957

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Sherlock Holmes story by Arthur Conan Doyle.


11 July 1957

'the way of a man with a maid'

Title of a Victorian pornographic novel by an anonymous author.

that book of Herbert Agar's

The Unquiet Years, an analysis of US policy, 1945-55.

Aurora Leigh

By Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1864)


13 July 1957

Lord's, which must have been pretty miserable

The Eton and Harrow match was affected by heavy rain 'with people splashing their way home through great yawning puddles' (The Times, 13 June 1957).

Mainly on the Air

Revised edition published by Heinemann in December 1957, including nine new pieces.

a collected volume of his essays

Dr Johnson and Others, published in May 1958 by the Cambridge University Press.


18 July 1957

Peter's health sounds a little sinister

The Times of 5 July carried a piece, one of Fleming's series of reports, in which he described his experiences at a hospital in Smolensk when he had a severe gastric ailment.

mellifluous quodlibetarian

Beerbohm, Lytton Strachey Ch 22: 'That agile and mellifluous quodlibetarian, Dr Joad.' A quodlibet is a question in philosophy proposed as an exercise in argument or disputation.

like that meat Johnson and Boswell had on the way to the Hebrides

Boswell's Life of Johnson, 3 June 1784:

At the inn where we stopped he was exceedingly dissatisfied with some roast mutton we had for dinner. ... He scolded the waiter, saying, 'It is as bad as bad can be: it is ill-fed, ill-killed, ill-kept, and ill-drest.'

old Gaunt's 'this dear dear land'…'pelting farm'

Richard II, 2:1

This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,
Dear for her reputation through the world,
Is now leased out, I die pronouncing it,
Like to a tenement or pelting farm.

Farnese Hercules

A massive and muscular marble statue.


21 July 1957

The Master of Pembroke (Oxon)

R B McCallum.


Junior Common Room.

He who lives more lives than one…

from 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol'


23 July 1957


Historical novel by George Eliot set in fifteenth century Florence.

Serjeant Buzfuz

In The Pickwick Papers, Buzfuz, acting for Mrs Bardell in her breach of promise case describes Mr Pickwick as 'a being, erect upon two legs, and bearing all the outward semblance of a man, and not of a monster.'

The Inquisitor's speech

Shaw, St Joan.

Chaunticleer…Nonnes Priest

Chaucer, Canterbury Tales.

oakum picking

Picking oakum, a tedious and painful manual labour, was separating threads of disused ropes. The threads were sold for making string or stuffing mattresses.

The Devil's Disciple

Play by Bernard Shaw.

The Riddle of the Sands

1903 novel by Eskine Childers. Sometimes described as the first spy novel.


27 July 1957


A P Herbert.

Ora pro nobis

Pray for us.


1 August 1957

Mima, Mowcher, Fish and Linky

  • Lady Beatrice Edith Mildred Gascoyne-Cecil (1891-1980) m. 4th Baron Harlech.
  • Lady Mary Alice Gascoyne-Cecil (1895-1988) m. 10th Duke of Devonshire. ('Moucher', not 'Mowcher'; the latter is a character in David Copperfield)
  • Rt Rev Lord Rupert Ernest William Gascoyne-Cecil (1863-1936), Bishop of Exeter, 1916-36
  • Lord Hugh Richard Heathcote Gascoyne-Cecil (1869-1956), Baron Quickswood.

the great Coke

Probably the jurist Edward Coke.

Do you know that sermon?

Donne: Sermon for Christmas Day, evening, 1640.


4 August 1957

…this date…

Anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.

furor notandi

A play on furor scribendi, a frenzy of writing.

The Green Carnation

1894 novel by Robert Hichens (originally published anonymously) satirising Wilde and Douglas as 'Esmé Amarinth' and 'Lord Reggie Hastings'.


7 August 1957

The National Review

Current affairs magazine published between 1883 and 1960.

is it in that organ…

Lord Altrincham (known professionally as John Grigg) edited The National Review from 1954-60. In 1957 he published an article critical of the failure of the monarchy to adapt to modern mores.

James Forsyte

A recurring cry of James Forsyte in The Man of Property and Indian Summer of a Forsyte.

the Express

The Daily Express. Populist right wing newspaper owned by Lord Beaverbrook.

the string of Ulysses's bow

Odyssey, 21:410.

'Oui; on m'appelle le grand'

'Yes, I am known as great'

I must wander down the Charing Cross Road

Central London street known for its second-hand book shops.

Aldington's biographical sketch

Richard Aldington, D H Lawrence: Portrait of a Genius, But ... (1950).

Sic transit!

Sic transit gloria mundi—worldly glory passes like that.

the last headmaster but five

Charles Goodford, Head Master of Eton 1853-1862; the last but six rather than five when GWL wrote this.


11 August 1957

the silly season

Traditionally in August, the summer holiday month, politics and other serious pursuits came to a temporary halt.

the barrows…

Until the 1970s Farringdon Road, on the northern fringe of the City of London, was lined from Cowcross Street to the Clerkenwell Road with barrows of old books.

'that unhoped serene that men call age'

Rupert Brooke, 'The Soldier'.


18 August 1957

The Yellow Book

Illustrated quarterly magazine published from 1894 to 1897, associated with Aestheticism. Wilde was not one of its authors, but it was linked to him in the public mind because Beardsley, its art editor, had published celebrated illustrations for Salome.


26 August 1957

my request for a ticket to Nice

Possibly because the Italian for Nice is Nizza.


1 September 1957

He is severe on Watson

George Watson's A E Housman: A Divided Life was published by RH-D in May 1957.

some silly—e.g. John Wain, who says A.E.H. failed in Greats on purpose

Tom Stoppard has expressed a similar view: 'On no evidence, my guess is that his temperament was such that, on realising at some point he was not going to get his "certain" First, he contrived a total humiliation.' (The Guardian, 3 June 2006)

a B.F.

A bloody fool.

Look Back in Anger

John Osborne's first staged play, produced in London in May 1956.


2 September 1957

in this lotus-land it is indeed always afternoon

Tennyson, 'The Lotos Eaters':

In the afternoon they came unto a land
In which it seemed always afternoon.


Bernhard Tauchnitz's Library of British and American Authors, a series of inexpensive, paperbound editions familiar to anglophone travellers on the continent.

Les Trois Dumas

An English translation by Gerard Hopkins was published in 1957 as The Three Musketeers: A Study of the Dumas Family.


8 September 1957

David Cecil

Cecil's biography of Beerbohm was published in 1964.

his and my pupil

Cecil was Professor of English Literature at Oxford 1948-1970; his pupils included John Bayley.

The Romantic Survival

The Romantic Survival—A Study in Poetic Evolution (1957). Bayley discussed changes in Romantic theory and practice from Wordsworth and Coleridge onwards, with detailed studies of the revival of Romanticism in the works of Yeats, Auden and Dylan Thomas. The passage quoted by GWL (p 86 in the second edition, 1964) relates to W B Yeats, contrasting his approach to writing poetry with that of Wilfred Owen:

How could poetry reside in some large general emotion outside the author's scope and control? How could the poetry be anywhere outside the poet? It is an inflexible application of the romantic egotism that the poet's universe must be purely his own. War must be a factor in the poet's consciousness, not a public emotion.

see through all things with your half-shut eyes

The Rape of the Lock. Canto iii. Line 117:
Coffee, which makes the politician wise,
And see through all things with his half-shut eyes.

Pamela's uncle

Pamela Lyttelton's mother was George Wyndham's elder sister.

'strong upon the Regulations Act'

Wilde: 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol', lines 157/8.


13 September 1957

Jonas Hanway

Hanway was reputedly the first man to carry an umbrella in London. He played no part in the invention of the water closet.

Olivias and Violas

In Twelfth Night.



The Pilgrim's Progress

The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come, Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream, by John Bunyan. A Christian allegory of more than 50,000 words, published in 1678.

Columbia University placed it top of the list of 'the most boring classics'

The Columbia University Press's list of the ten most boring classics in the world, published in 1950, consisted of The Pilgrim's Progress, Moby Dick, Paradise Lost, The Faerie Queen, Boswell's Life of Johnson, Pamela, Silas Marner, Ivanhoe, Don Quixote and Goethe's Faust. (The Times, 4 July 1950, p 3)

Wasn't Dulles an alumnus?

Dulles was educated, if at all, at Princeton University and the George Washington University Law School.


15 September 1957

I think that in some way Alfred Douglas was a cousin of George Wyndham, and must therefore have been related to Pamela

Pamela Lyttelton and Lord Alfred Douglas were second cousins: her maternal grandfather, Percy Scawen Wyndham (1835-1911), was a brother of Fanny Charlotte Wyndham (1820-1893), who was Lord Alfred Douglas's maternal grandmother.


20 September 1957

'with the rear and the slaves'

Browning, 'The Lost Leader'

He alone breaks from the van and the free-men,
He alone sinks to the rear and the slaves!

'sealed of the tribe'

Either Revelation Ch 7 passim ('Of the tribe of Judah, 12000 were sealed; Of the tribe of Reuben, 12000' etc) or Ben Jonson (An Epistle, Answering to One That Asked to Be Sealed of the Tribe of Ben).

rings out loud and bold like that of faithful Chapman

'Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold.' (Keats, 'On First Looking into Chapman's Homer')

Northanger Abbey

Jane Austen novel published posthumously in 1817.


22 September 1957

autumn has brought more mists than mellow fruitfulness

Reference to Keats's 'Ode to Autumn' whose first line is, 'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.'

Did not Sir John Harington invent the W.C.?

Harington's 1596 book, A New Discourse of a Stale Subject, Called the Metamorphosis of Ajax, gave details of a flushing lavatory he had installed at his house in Somerset. Flushing lavatories were used in Roman times and earlier, but Harington's was the first in post-Roman Britain.

Whitefriars Club

Dining club, founded in 1868, originally for journalists but latterly admitting 'lawyers, politicians, and publishers, as well as people in the theatre, films and the armed services'

his next book appears tomorrow

Religion and the Rebel, of which The Times commented that it was sad to watch a promising talent dwindle with confidence into fatuity (The Times, 24 October 1957).



The Royal Succession

In the original, La Loi des mâles. The English version, translated by Humphrey Hare, was published in March 1958.


26 September 1957

I am glad to see the reviews…

The Times, on the day GWL wrote, commented:

Mr Hart-Davis is a discreet but at the same time a most conscientious editor. One gets glimpses of the remarkable pains he has taken to date this letter or that, to examine texts and to trace references…It is moreover interestingly illustrated and handsomely produced.


29 September 1957

succès d'estime

A critical rather than a popular or commercial success.

Marius the Epicurean

Philosophical novel by Walter Pater, published in 1885.

the editorship of Punch

Punch was a humorous magazine founded in 1841. Malcolm Muggeridge, who stood down as editor in 1957, was succeeded by Bernard Hollowood, who edited the magazine from 1958-68. Punch ceased publication in 1992, was revived in 1996, and finally closed in 2002.

the bursting buds of promise

Gerald Massey, 'A Call to the People'

But our meek sufferance endeth now
Within the souls of men
The bursting buds of promise blow,
And Freedom lives again!


3 October 1957

'though much is taken much abides'

From Tennyson's early poem 'Ulysses', written in 1833.

Le déluge n'a pas réussi: il en est resté un homme

Henry Becque: The Flood was not a success: there was still a man left alive.

the time of party conferences

The three main political parties of Britain hold week-long conferences of their members in successive weeks of October.

'Irks care the cropful bird'

'Rabbi Ben Ezra':

Irks care the crop-full bird?
Frets doubt the maw-crammed beast?

Is there still a plump head waiter at the Cock?

Tennyson, 'Made at the Cock':

O plump head-waiter at The Cock,
To which I most resort,
How goes the time? 'Tis five o'clock.
Go fetch a pint of port.

And did you have lark pie or am I confusing it with the Cheshire Cheese?

Both the Cock Tavern and the Cheshire Cheese had reputations in earlier centuries for their lark pies, the latter's, also known as lark puddings, being particularly celebrated in Dr Johnson's day. (Nathaniel Newnham Davis, 'Clubs and Taverns', The Times, 8 June 1914, p 14)

'the simple bird that thinks two notes a song'

W H Davies, 'April's Charms'

And hear the pleasant cuckoo, loud and long—
The simple bird that thinks two notes a song.


6 October 1957

fond, impious thought

Perhaps an echo of Gray's 'The Bard: A Pindaric Ode':

Fond impious Man, think'st thou, yon sanguine cloud,
Rais'd by thy breath, has quench'd the Orb of day?

But more probably from Chesterton's poem 'The Revolutionist, or Lines to a Statesman' (Collected Poems, p 155):

If I were wise and good and rich and strong—
Fond, impious thought, if I were Walter Long


13 October 1957

The Travellers'

The Travellers' Club in Pall Mall.


16 October 1957

Preliminary Essays

Wain's essays were: 'Restoration comedy and its modern critics'; 'Ovid in English'; 'The liberation of Wordsworth'; '"A stranger and afraid": notes on four Victorian poets'; 'The quality of Arnold Bennett'; 'Three contemporary poets'; 'The reputation of Ezra Pound'; 'Ambiguous gifts: notes on the poetry of William Empson'; 'Dylan Thomas: a review'; and 'The literary critic in the university'.

a bottom of good sense

Boswell's Life of Johnson, 1781 section:

'And she did not disgrace him; the woman had a bottom of good sense.' The word 'bottom' thus introduced, was so ludicrous when contrasted with his gravity, that most of us could not forbear tittering and laughing; though I recollect that the Bishop of Killaloe kept his countenance with perfect steadiness, while Miss Hannah More slyly hid her face behind a lady's back who sat on the same settee with her.

V. Woolf's inability to see anything good in H.J's writing, or so she said to Lytton S

Elsewhere, however, Woolf wrote, 'Henry James, what ever else he may have been, was a great writer—a great artist. A priest of the art of writing in his lifetime, he is now among the saints to whom every writer, particularly every novelist, must do homage.' (The Essays of Virginia Woolf: 1912-1918, p 348)

J. Wain is refreshing about L.S's impertinence in deriding Clough

John Wain, Preliminary Essays, 1957, p 93:

The smaller man making fun of the larger is a spectacle that people are bound to tire of; particularly as Strachey couldn't really find anything funny to say about Clough except that as a boy at Rugby he had weak ankles, so that every time he makes an appearance in the essay on Florence Nightingale, he has to be balanced on his weak ankles to remind us that he was a Victorian and therefore must have been silly. In fact, of course, Clough's sense of irony was finer than Strachey's.

Sulla in Plutarch

In Dryden's translation:

…his blue eyes, of themselves extremely keen and glaring, were rendered all the more forbidding and terrible by the complexion of his face, in which white was mixed with rough blotches of fiery red. Hence, it is said, he was surnamed Sylla, and in allusion to it one of the scurrilous jesters at Athens made the verse upon him: 'Sylla is a mulberry sprinkled o'er with meal.'

'The Celestial Omnibus'

By E M Forster, in which a young boy is given a return ticket on the bus for Paradise.


23 October 1957

'squalor and sordidness turned into poetry'

Bennett's verdict, recorded in his Journal for 1910.

Ipswich is all bye-electing

Richard Stokes, MP for Ipswich, mentioned in GWL's letter of 13 June 1957, had died as a result of a motoring accident.

toto animo

With all (my) soul.

'Wasn't it them Greeks as used to be so clever?'

H G Wells, Joan and Peter, 1918, Ch 8:

'Are them the same Greeks that used to be so clever?' asked Mrs. Pybus. 'Used to be,' said the young man with a kind of dark scorn.


27 October 1957

Newman Flower … "was so appalled ... that he published only brief extracts, and those the safest"

Not as safe as Flower supposed. In 1935 he, the publishers and the printers were successfully sued for libel in two separate cases for remarks left unedited in Volume III of the journals. For details see here.


31 October 1957

O Elton…C. E. Montague

C E Montague: A Memoir, published in 1929.

what Old Heythorpe had for his Last Supper

See GWL's letter of 5 December 1956.

The Entertainer

Play by John Osborne. First produced in April 1957 with Laurence Olivier, Brenda de Banzie, George Relph and Dorothy Tutin in the main roles. The play has been frequently revived; among the actors playing the lead role, Archie Rice, on stage or screen have been Max Wall, Jack Lemmon, Peter Bowles, Michael Gambon, Corin Redgrave and Robert Lindsay.

Saintsbury's who saw the good in Paul de Kock as well as in Milton

In A History of the French Novel‚ Vol. 2—To the Close of the 19th Century, Ch 11, 'Paul de Kock, Other Minors of 1800-1830, and Nodier', Saintsbury devoted more than 8,000 words to de Kock. T S Eliot commented, 'Who but Saintsbury, in writing a book on the French novel, would give far more pages to Paul de Kock than to Flaubert?' (Eliot, 'To Criticize the Critic', 1961.)

Childe H…Donny Jonny

Byron's poems, 'Childe Harold' and 'Don Juan'. The latter is less strenuously romantic than the former.

'He was slow, he was courteous, he was wrong.' (Quoted by J. Agate)…

Agate was quoting a nineteenth century mot printed in Verse, Prose and Epitaphs from the Commonplace Book of Lewin Hill, C.B. (1908). He used it and added his contrasting character sketch of himself in Ego 5 (1942), p 145.

Poor old Dunsany

Lord Dunsany died suddenly on 25 October.


3 November 1957

'The Young Man with the Carnation', or words to that effect

The title of the story is as given by RH-D. It is about an author of a successful first book who struggles to find a theme for a second novel that will not be superficial.


7 November 1957

'the august, inhospitable, inhuman stars, glittering magnificently unperturbed'

William Watson, 'Melancholia'

she is to me what the Holy Ghost was to the Corinthians

1 Corinthians 3:16: 'Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?'

Carlyle describing him as the greatest ass in Europe…

As a child Monckton Milnes, introduced to Carlyle, said, 'This is a great day in my life. I have seen two philosophers—yourself, sir, and Mr Herbert Spencer, whom Papa pointed out to me in a 'bus.' Carlyle replied with sudden animation, 'Eh, laddie, and have ye seen Herbert Spencer? Then ye've seen the most unending ass in Christendom.' George W E Russell, Afterthoughts (1912), p 144.

his father was one of the best of my Eton friends

Valentine Fleming (1882-1917) was killed in the First World War.


9 November 1957

each poem or other work is inextricably bound up with the mood and circumstances of its creation

RH-D's thoughts seem to run on similar lines to those of John Bayley (see letter of 7 September 1957, above).


14 November 1957

'Meet we no angels, Pansie?'

By Thomas Ashe, 1836-1889.

the miracle in the valley of Hinnom

Probably referring to the incidents described in Ezekiel 37:1-14: 'Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live…'


17 November 1957

The Archbishop of York

Michael Ramsey.


F J R Coleridge.


20 November 1957

its custom of a communal dining-table

There is still (2019) a communal dining table, but also smaller separate tables in the club's dining room.

Charlotte Brontë's horror on seeing Thackeray munching and enjoying potatoes

Thackeray recalled, '…as I took my fifth potato, she leaned across with clasped hands and tearful eyes, and breathed imploringly, 'Oh, Mr. Thackeray! Don't!' Lewis Benjamin, William Makepeace Thackeray (1968), p 310.

Mrs Jellyby…Turveydrop

In Bleak House.

Mrs Jarley and Dick Swiveller

In The Old Curiosity Shop.

Pecksniff and Mrs Gamp

In Martin Chuzzlewit.

The Wellers

In The Pickwick Papers.

Mrs Nickleby…Mr Squeers

In Nicholas Nickleby.


In The Old Curiosity Shop.

the idea of Mr P. was really Seymour's

Dickens was originally engaged to supply 'sketches' to accompany a series of comic drawings by Robert Seymour.

La Rochefoucauld: 'Why have we memory…'

Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales, 313:

Pourquoi faut-il que nous ayons assez de mémoire pour retenir jusqu'aux moindres particularités de ce qui nous est arrivé, et que nous n'en ayons pas assez pour nous souvenir combien de fois nous les avons contées à une même personne?


24 November 1957

Quality Street

1913 play by James Barrie.

and is v. near Charing X

The Royal Empire Society (now the Commonwealth Club) is in Northumberland Avenue, adjacent to Charing Cross.

but I believe there are those who don't like that courteously twinkling eye

P G Wodehouse was among them: 'But Max. What a louse. Simon and Schuster gave me his fat volume of dramatic criticisms, and that supercilious attitude of his made me feel sick. And do you realise that but for Max there would have been none of this New Yorker superciliousness. They all copy him.' (Frances Donaldson, P G Wodehouse, 1982, p 318). On the other hand, Wodehouse shared GWL's view of George Orwell: 'Why do the eggheads make such a fuss of him? He's quite good, of course, but surely not as good as all that.' (Frances Donaldson, Yours, Plum—The Letters of P. G. Wodehouse, 1990, p 202.

that idiotic fancy for having no capital letters

In early editions of The Brook Kerith, Moore eschewed capital letters in the hope of producing an appropriately scriptural effect. In later editions he relented and allowed conventional upper and lower case type.

my copy was burnt in the Hagley fire

On Christmas Eve 1925 fire swept through the house destroying much of the library and many of the pictures.


29 November 1957

anfractuosities of the human mind

Boswell, Life of Johnson, 1780 section:

Among the anfractuosities of the human mind, I know not if it may not be one, that there is a superstitious reluctance to sit for a picture.
('Anfractuosities' means 'intricacies' or 'convolutions')


Sutherland's striking 1949 portrait of Maugham, now (2019) in the Tate Gallery can be seen here.


1 December 1957

St Andrew's Day

Notable date on the Eton calendar, when is played an annual match of the school's form of football known as the Wall Game.

Tony Powell's latest

At Lady Molly's.


4 December 1957

'…what made your head ache…'

'Nay, Sir,' said Johnson, 'it was not the wine that made your head ache, but the sense that I put into it.' Boswell: 'Will sense make the head ache?' Johnson: 'Yes, Sir, when it is not used to it.'

the new Agatha

Agatha Christie's 4.50 from Paddington.

think upon her latter end

Deuteronomy 32:29:

O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!


8 December 1957

Tempest at Drury Lane

Directed by Peter Brook. Caliban was played by Alec Clunes. Laurence Olivier shared RH-D's view of the play, saying of Prospero, '…so sonorous, you know. Not a bloody laugh in sight.' (The New Statesman, Volume 113, p 25).


12 December 1957

Reith Lectures

Annual series of lectures broadcast by the BBC.

Durrell…Cyprus book

Bitter Lemons (1957).


19 December 1957

darkness will cover the earth, and gross darkness the people

Isaiah 60:2


29 December 1957

Robbery Under Arms

1957 film, directed by Jack Lee, of Rolf Boldrewood's 1888 novel about life and adventure in the bush and goldfields of Australia.


31 December 1957

the sport of every wind

Samuel Madden, 'Boulter's Monument' (1745):

Trod under foot, the sport of every wind,
Swept from the earth and blotted from his mind.

the name of Captain Starlight's horse


'that stellar and undiminishable something'

In Emerson's Essays II (1844) 'Character'.